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Our NCS Autumn delivery in partnership with Oldham College officially kicked off on the 13th October.

On Day One of Phase 1 activities the group were thrown straight into the programme as they visited Game Over Liverpool, a series of Escape Rooms with different themed challenges. While team 1 tackled a Pirates of the Caribbean themed room, Team 2 were tasked with executing a successful bank robbery in ‘Money Heist’. The group’s teamwork, communication and problem-solving skills were immediately tested as they were handed the task to escape their respective rooms within the 60-minute time limit. Within the rooms the teams would get different clues from video help which would come from the Game Over staff, these clues would consist of cryptic hints on how to gain access to the next room, complete a challenge, or find a key within the room to unlock the door. While Team 1 escaped the room with 2 minutes to spare, Team 2 were left trapped!

After a short break Team 1 wanted to challenge themselves again by taking on the Saw-themed ‘Maniac’ room, while Team 2 took on ‘Espionage’, a spy-themed room. Team 1 were blindfolded then escorted to a dark room and handcuffed. The team had to work together to release themselves and find their way out of the room, which was filled they many gory challenges which tested both their problem-solving and their stomachs. Through great communication and leadership from the young people, Team 1 escaped the room again, while despite their fantastic efforts Team 2 were left trapped again, in what was in all fairness a very tricky room with an apparent less than 1% success rate! Both teams then took on a final escape room before a sleepy journey home from what had been a fantastic first day.

For Day Two of Phase 1, the NCS autumn group were on their way to Go Ape Delamere in Northwich, Cheshire. Go Ape is an outdoor activity venue located in the heart of Delamere forest, which consists of zip-lines, zip trekking adventures and team building activities. The group started off the morning with some team-building skills. The group split up into pairs and took on an assault course around a small section of the forest. Within their pairs one person was blindfolded and they had to coordinate and communicate effectively to navigate their partner around the course so they wouldn’t fall over or take the wrong turn. After the blindfolded task the group were split up into two groups. The tasks they were given required lots of teamwork, leadership and communication. The first task was to bring a metal rod to their ground using just their fingertips in teams of 5 and 6. This task would need lots of concentration and leadership as if one person went down too fast, the rest of the team would lose balance. The second task was to get a fabric hoop around everyone in the group whilst holding hands. The team loved the team building games in the morning, and they would need to use these skills to help them tackle the afternoon’s challenges. After some lunch the group were given a safety brief by the Go Ape staff, then it was time to hit the trees and zip-lines. The group pushed themselves to their limits on the trees and zip-lines with some exhilarating experiences, with the majority of the group enjoying the Tarzan swings and zip-lines in the 2,400 acre Delamere forest.

Glen Fawcett of Oldham College said I have worked with these young people for a long time and they don’t have much independence and to see them doing activities on their own is brilliant.

Day Three of the NCS autumn delivery was then upon us, and the end of the first week’s activities. The group were on their way to The Romans UK Liverpool, an activity park with different mini games from the Roman Empire era. The first mini game was spinning hammer run; the group had to run up to a sledgehammer, run around the hammer ten times and then run back to the beginning and tag in their next team member. This game resulted in lots of dizzy tumbles and laughs within the team! For the second mini game the group were split up into pairs, this time facing off against each other in Gladiator sumo wrestling, during which they would need to force their opponent to concede defeat through pinning them for three seconds or pushing them out of the ring. The fun didn’t stop there, and the group was split up into groups for some good old tug of war. The team were talking about tactics and one young person mentioned the tactic they used in the hit Netflix series 'Squid Game!'

In the fourth mini game, two people would sit on a wooden beam and try and knock each other off the wooden beam with giant boxing gloves to score points. The fifth and final game before lunch involved two people entering the Roman colosseum blindfolded and with huge padded boxing gloves had to beat their opponent - each hit would score one point and a knock down would score two points.

It was then time for some lunch before an action-packed afternoon with more games. In the first mini game after lunch, the young people had to stand on a plinth with padded rods, battling to knock their opponent down to the floor. The young people really enjoyed this mini game, but the fun wasn’t stopping anytime soon; Tag Archery was up next. The young people were equipped with bows and foam arrows, and they would need to hit the person on the opposite team to score points. The day was nearly done, but the group were still full of energy and finished off with some final mini games. The next mini game was Zorb football, whereby the young people are inside inflated rubber rings which would cover their body. This mini game resulted in many knockdowns, but the young people got back up and continued, showing their resilience as ever! The final game of the afternoon before the coach back to Oldham College was a good old game of dodgeball, which even the staff members got involved in to finish a fantastic week.

During Phase 2 of the programme, the focus switched to ensuring the participants were equipped with skills for independent living, the world of work, and understanding their community. Week two of the NCS autumn programme started with a bang, with 4x time BMX World Champion Kelvin Batey coming to Oldham College to give a talk to the young people regarding his BMX journey. Kelvin spoke about the high and lows of becoming a World Champion, the dedication and discipline he had to demonstrate to conquer his lifelong dream of becoming a World Champion. Kelvin also spoke about his friendship with X Games champion Stephen Murray and how he suffered a life changing injury. The young people then set some goals for what they would like to achieve in their lives, and it was fantastic to hear about their aspirations!

In the afternoon the group sat down and were tasked what they think about the word community and what that resembles to them. The young people pointed out the community spirit through the COVID 19 pandemic and how this brought many different communities together during difficult times. The young people were asked about the positives and negatives of Oldham – positives included friendly people who look out for each other, while negatives included a lack of mental health services and poor public transport.  Writing down these thoughts will help the young people get thinking about their social action project later in the programme. The young people were then tasked with writing down things they would like in their own ideal town, ensuring they accommodated to everyone who might live there.

The second day of week two started with the young people ready to cook up a storm. They were faced with only a handful of ingredients to use when cooking a meal, with a selection of ingredients you would typically find in a food bank parcel. This task would teach the young people how to manage a budget and how to learn the basics of cookery. The young people also discussed issues around the prevalence of hunger within the UK and found out some key stats regarding the food bank within Oldham. They were given a task to feed themselves for a week with 15 pounds - the young people smashed the challenge, even managing to spend less than their budget.

The afternoon of the second day started with a debate regarding politics. The key talking points included whether there should be a Royal Family in the UK and whether the voting age should be reduce to 16. The young people tested their knowledge of the political landscape in the UK, and the importance of registering to vote to make sure young people’s voices are heard was emphasised.

Following this, we were fortunate enough to have David and Gail from DGF First Aid Training come down to the programme to teach the young people the basics of first aid such as how to perform CPR and use a defibrillator, also highlighting how their services are becoming more popular since the Euro 2020 tournament with the heroics of the Denmark team.

For the third and final day of Phase 2, the focus was on the young people’s creativity and problem-solving abilities. To start the day, the participants were tasked with coming up with a business idea  that would help the local community. After several excellent ideas, the group walked around the college to conduct market research about their ideas. They decided that the issue of homelessness was important to them, and as a result came up with the idea of sheltered pods that homeless people are able to access as a fixed address. This would mean they could access things like a bank account, welfare payments and hot food, with the aim of getting back on their feet and finding something more permanent. The group then presented their ideas to a panel of judges, who asked questions and provided feedback on their idea, which was a fantastic way to expose the participants to a workplace-type environment. For the final session of the week, the participants were given the key elements of a social action project, and tasked with beginning to plan their own project. Building on the morning’s discussions, the participants decided they wanted to focus on the issue of homelessness for their project. Lots of ideas were shared, with the most popular being a charity 5-a-side football tournament. We’re excited to continue working with the group over the next couple of months to put their plans into place!

On the whole, it was an action-packed 2 weeks where the participants were pushed out of their comfort zones, built new friendships, and gained some key skills for life. We hope they had a fantastic experience!

Check out the highlights from the programme below on our YouTube channel.

Next week, we begin another NCS programme with Oldham College with a new cohort of students! The students will be based Kingswood Peak Venture for the 3 days and will do the following activities;

-          Archery

-          Buggy Building

-          Leap of Faith

-          Problem Solving

-          Nightline

-          Laser

-          Fire Lighting

-          Shelter Building

-          Climbing

To find out more about NCS, email Holly.Grimes@oact.org.uk